If only

By Atty. Gloria Estenzo Ramos August 27,2017

Atty. Gloria Estenzo-Ramos

Lulu Trinidad Ocampo exudes that energetic “can do” spirit that has made her elegant “Bags for Life” enterprise a life-changer for many in our communities. It was exciting to see her again and her eye-catching hand-painted bags, with matching shawls and vest, to boot. It was quite a challenge deciding which item to choose as each set was equally alluring. This is another line of her numerous paper woven products that uses principally old newspapers and magazines. This should make one look at these materials differently and not as a discard which ends up in our numerous and so-unhealthy dumpsites.

Ms. Ocampo is my sorority sister and I met her for the first time a decade or so ago in one of our sorority events. I was immediately struck by her vision of a vibrant community-based economy and in ensuring sustainable production with less impact on the environment that has, since 1992, made a big difference in the lives of many, especially our homemakers and women.

We invited her to Cebu City to share her expertise with a lot of constituents benefiting from that training and becoming entrepreneurs themselves. She has done several trainings in the country such as Smokey Mountain, Sapang Palay, Mandaluyong, Nueva Viscaya and Bacolod and even outside, such as Hong kong.

Her creativity and innovation in the design of the bags show the painstaking attention given to each of them. We can also imagine the hours of work made by our paper weavers and equally as important, the volume of materials that had been put to good use and diverted from the numerous and largely unregulated disposal facilities in the country.

If only – more of our private sector members would be like Ms. Ocampo, so conscious of the impacts the business or industry has on Mother Earth, from beginning to end, apart from giving our people a source of livelihood that is quite rewarding.

If only – more of our citizens are made aware of the devastating consequences of a “toss and throw” mindset that has trashed our planet, we would have lifestyles that put premium on nurturing our life support systems. At the rate we are destroying them, will the next generation see healthy ecosystems that support their needs and their families?

If only – we have more collaboration between national government agencies and local government units (LGUs) that enable the former to render assistance and guidance and for the LGUs to prioritize and be more effective in delivering the service of environmental protection to the remotest areas under their jurisdiction.

If only – there is convergence among government, the private sector and civil society, where the more sustainable hierarchy of waste management principles are given special focus such as avoidance and minimizing of discards, and reusing and recycling of materials, there would be no need to look for huge areas of land to be converted into expensive landfills.

If sixty percent of our so-called discards are biodegradable, they should end up in compost facilities, and not in dumpsites.

If twenty or thirty percent are recyclable, such as paper, they can be used and made into different goods, like what Ms. Ocampo is doing. In addition, the recycled product already saves up a lot of resources for their production and fossil fuels for transportation, with their attendant pollution on land, air and water, thus, minimizing carbon emission and ensuring healthier communities.

If only – we own the responsibility and discipline in looking after the consequences of our own choices, and local governments will put up the system that enables recycling and composting as business that will thrive, the latter will need not be investigated for their massive failure to be rid of open dumpsites and in the enforcement of the law.

By law, I am referring to the RA 9003, also known as the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, a seventeen-year-old statute, which is pathetically more honored in the breach than in practice.

It has been recently reported that the Environmental Ombudsman will investigate 100 more local government units, in addition to 50 last year, which included a city in the province of Cebu, for their failure to perform their mandates under RA 9003.

Considering the serious ecological, social and economic impacts of an uncontrolled throw-away regime we are in, it is time for the LGUs, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Department of Interior and Local Government, the Department of Education and all other national agencies with clearly defined mandates under RA 9003 to work together and with the other stakeholders to ensure safe and healthier communities that we are all duty-bound to promote and ensure, for this and future generations.

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